Review: Superboy #3 by Scott Lobdell & R.B. Silva

Superboy #3

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencilled by:: R.B. Silva
Inked by: Rob Lean
Coloring by Richard & Tanya Horie
:Lettering by: Carlos Mangual

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

Summary (contains spoilers): The issue starts with two meta criminals named Tony and Alison robbing a convenience store.

Meanwhile, Superboy has plunged a mile under the Earth’s surface and finds himself in lava after his attempts to control the Prison Riot at Pen 51 in last issue. Superboy notices some drastic inconsistencies about his invulnerability here:

A nice subtle way of showing how “tactile telekinesis” is vastly different than Superman’s power set. Superboy escapes and Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is in pursuit, with Rose Wilson leading the charge.

Superboy stumbles on Tony and Alison. Tony attacks Superboy futilely assuming he’s there to arrest them, but Superboy’s moral compass is still haywire. So Alison flirts with him instead. Superboy starts to confuse her with the Rose from his virtual reality simulations, so offers to take her home. As he bounds off with her, they are attacked by one of the prisoners from Pen 51. A red headed alien woman who seems to have some degree of telekinetic powers.

The red head is inexplicably turned to goo, and Superboy races home to Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. When he gets there, he demands that Caitlin Fairchild tell him the truth about everything that is going on. Fairchild hulks out and grabs Superboy by the neck.

Review: There is one element of this book that I think is kind of cool, but as a comic geek it annoys me a little. In their attempt to keep the reader on unsure footing (to match Superboy’s own uncertainty), we are constantly introduced to characters with little explanation on who they are.

In this comic, Superboy meets a young couple who in their first appearance seem to have slaughtered an entire convenience store. I feel like I should know who these characters are, but since Superboy doesn’t, we’re never told.

Same with the red-haired alien escapee in the book. I kept thinking it was Maxima (who I know is appearing in Supergirl soon), and Grey suggested maybe it’s Volcana. But again, we are left with just about no explanation.

This works  well with the narrative, because Superboy doesn’t know these characters either, but as a reader, I do find it a little frustrating. OMAC has done similar things, but DiDio and Giffen have kept it much less frustrating. It has been a while since I read DC regularly, and it is even possible that these are completely new characters, but the book could give the reader a little more help with that kind of thing.

Something else I found amusing was the scene in the end where Fairchild’s powers are revealed. I know, I know. DC is horribly sexist, but I actually laughed out loud when the first thing that happens when Fairchild flexes her muscles is that all her clothes rip off. I really thought that was the perfect homage back to Gen 13, where J. Scott Campbell seemed to have a great deal of fun playing with excesses like this.

One of the things I love most about this book is Superboy’s constant running narration. It’s especially cool to see how different his thoughts are from his actions. One thing I have encountered a lot in comic readers is the assumption that characters are always telling the truth. This often leads to drastic misinterpretations about what is supposed to be going on in a comic. A friend and I have coined the phased “dialogue-based continuity” when we talk about that. Superboy, in particular, seems to be full of characters who are constantly lying.   I think that is a great risk for a writer to take, and Lobdell has done it very well here.

Superboy does feel fairly inconsistent at times, almost as if Lobdell and Silva seem to be having as hard a time to get a firm grip on the character as Superboy does with reality, but I do think each issue has been much better than the one before it. I still will buy it week of release and it makes a pretty decent companion book for Teen Titans, which is one of my favorite titles of Relaunch. I really think this book will pick up a lot more steam once Superboy encounters the Teen Titans.

Next issue, we are promised to finally start getting some answers about what has really been going on here.  I just hope that they are satisfying.  Superboy really needs to start being grounded in some strong setting or else I can see myself losing interest.  As of now, it’s still holding my attention, but it definitely needs something more.

Final Score: 8.0 – Definitely a Relaunch book that has gotten better with each issue. I do want them to get back to the tease from the end of issue 1, and see this Superboy take on the Teen Titans, but other than that, I have no major issues with Superboy.

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